by Liz Yee, Director of Innovation, Truth Tree
Have you ever pondered to yourself, “could our website be generating more inquiries?” Yes? Great! Far too often, annual website upkeep consists of changing key dates, updating admission events and tuition, and maybe popping in a new video or image.
But I’m going to challenge you to dive deeper by reviewing your website with an eye toward understanding the user experience. This exercise is critical to boosting inquiries at your school.
As independent school admissions, communications, and marketing folks, you know our websites (intimately!). But knowing how applicants and families navigate through your website is vital to ensuring that you capture leads, convert inquiries, and continue to build interest in your schools and programs.
- Ask hard questions. What is the purpose of your school’s website? Seriously—ask this question. This might seem like an easy question to answer, but it can be a stumbling block for some schools as we want our websites to be a catch all for every audience! Specifically, is your website geared to current parents or prospective parents? (Hint: to maximize your web presence, your primary audience can’t be both current and prospective students/families!).
- Don’t get fancy. Good design is important but there needs to be a balance of eye-catching graphics vs. design that is confusing. No matter how exciting your school website might look, no one wants to spend unnecessary time trying to navigate to find out about your school or the admissions process. And don’t forget that intuition is a valuable tool!
- Look at your website’s load speed. Parents expect your website images to display correctly and load quickly. Plus, they are likely looking at your website from a mobile device during a small sliver of available time. Slow load time is frustrating and prospects won’t stick around (Think: “If this school’s website is slow and clunky, what does that mean about the program?”). Schedule a series of short working sessions (or one longer one to knock it off your list!) to make sure your images are optimized for mobile devices and social media.
- Do some easy testing. Ask someone outside your school to test your website. You’ve spent hours on your website, so it’s intuitive to you. Getting an outside perspective will help you make changes and tweaks. Make sure it’s easy to find what families and prospectus are looking for will remove any hurdles or barriers.
- Assess your content, while you’re at it. When was the last time you or someone at the school audited the written content on every page of your website? The middle school math curriculum may not have changed since 2014, but how people consume information sure has.
- Add a quick inquiry form. This is easy and critical. Most of our schools have inquiry forms that have multiple questions, and prospects might even have to set up an entire profile before even getting a chance to answer the question (please tell me this is not your private school!). Web visitors don’t have the patience to set up a database record, give you their child’s school history, and various pieces of information just to ask a quick question about the admissions process, your tree nut policy, or your bus service. You need a quick inquiry form with two fields (seriously): Name and Email is all you need to follow up. Make it easy to start a dialogue.
These quick steps will give your independent school website a refresh that is sure to bring more inquiries and open your team to more discussion with prospects. Your Board and Administrative Team will appreciate knowing that you’ve invested this quick retooling of your website and you’ll see the results, too!